WCPGW – Lapse of Judgement?

An ArchiTeam member has written into What Could Possibly Go Wrong? asking if it is wrong to entertain clients or prospective clients.


Dear What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


I noticed in the Age last Saturday that there was a small article about public servants coming under question from the Victorian Auditor-General. They have been accepting hospitality from consultants including architecture companies that stand to win contracts from the government. Is it wrong to do this?


Dear ArchiTeam member,

In recent times there have been many questions about unethical and illegal practices by various organisations including the banks, insurance companies, politicians, political parties and many others too numerous to mention here, as well as various religious institutions. They all enjoy a position of privilege and are supposed to be operating to the highest moral and legal standards. We have every right to be able to trust them. Then there are despicable acts exposed through #MeToo etc. Cheating cricketers who earn millions each year are now in the spotlight.

Seemingly everyone is working outside the rules. Our society has laws, our games have rules, these exist as our war against disorder, without them there is chaos. Those mentioned above are very well aware of what they are doing – it is premeditated with a clear intent driven by personal gain. They need to be dealt with.

Whether you follow the cricket or not they are representing all of us on the international stage – they acted deceitfully and betrayed us, all for their own selfish gain. The Australian cricket captain claimed that his problem was caused by his lapse of judgement – this is not the case, it runs deeper than that, this is all about integrity or should we say the lack of it.

Integrity can in simple terms be defined as – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. This is not a difficult concept, even for those who break the rules.

We are each in total control of our own integrity – it must be not negotiable.

Amongst all this we architects are charged with the duty of representing the interests of others with integrity regardless of what others around us might be doing. During contract administration the parties to the contract have every right to be able to trust us to be fair and reasonable. If your integrity is in question you will lose that trust, lose control of the project and possibly be talking about it with your PI Insurer.

A project manager I worked with was recently up before the magistrate for, as they say, misappropriating funds to his own advantage, thankfully not on one of my projects. Part of his defence was that everyone was doing it. However, on one of my projects in the same environment a project manager colleague of his knocked back tickets to the tennis from the builder. The builder was being particularly adversarial. She told me that she would have loved to go to the tennis but under the circumstances she would feel uncomfortable. Clearly not everyone is doing it. It was just his way of justifying to himself that his stealing was ok. The magistrate did not accept the justification. Game over, he lost his job, marriage, career and more.

In my view there is nothing wrong with a reasonable level of entertaining clients, it is a usual business practice. Those who are in receipt of the hospitality need to make their own decisions about any perceived or actual conflict of interest to maintain their integrity.

Amidst the blubbering crescendo of self pity by the cricketers was the comment from the Australian captain that his predicament should be a lesson for others – indeed, your integrity is everything.

Peter Finn, architect.
ArchiTeam Director.


Disclaimer – ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ is not an advice column, it is only general comment from ArchiTeam who are not aware of your circumstances with any issue that you may have. You cannot rely on these general comments, each member must make their own decisions about any action they should take and seek independent advice of their own if they are unsure.